Durham County

Sewage backup floods Eno River Association office

The Eno River Association has been forced from its office by a sewage backup that caused an estimated $100,000 worth of damage.

“It’s been horrible, it’s been traumatic,” said Cynthia Satterfield, development director with the environmental nonprofit.

The association office is on Guess Road, next to the Eno River. None of the sewage that backed up from four toilets is thought to have reached the river, but when employees came to work Monday morning they found raw sewage up to four inches deep in parts of the building, Satterfield said.

Insurance will cover only 10 to 25 percent of repair costs, she said.

“It’s a disaster, unquestionably,” said City Councilman Don Moffitt, a former association president. “Who would ever, ever have thought something like this would happen?”

On Monday, city workers found the blockage and used a router to relieve the pressure that had backed up the sewer, Satterfield said, “but by then about 80 percent of the office and the contents of the office had been destroyed.”

The building, which the association owns, is undergoing an environmental cleanup that involves taking up floors, removing wallboard and disinfecting. Repairs are expected to take several months.

“I do have a history with the Eno River Association, but I would be concerned about anybody in this situation,” Moffitt said. “So I’ll be watching it to make sure the city takes care of its responsibilities.”

City Manager Tom Bonfield said the city’s risk management personnel “have been engaged … to evaluate what if any responsibility we have.” They are assessing “the extent of the damage, what caused it, what role or what responsibilities we have,” he said.

“We’re definitely going to need help,” Satterfield said.

For the time being, the association is operating from offices at the Chapel Hill law firm Epting and Hackney. A fundraising event has been scheduled for Feb. 21 at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, and donations may be made through the association website, enoriver.org.